Last night was Part 1 of the Oprah, Lance Armstrong “World Exclusive” Interview. I didn’t expect much going into it, but I was curious to see what Lance had to say. The interview exceeded my expectations.
Much will be written about this, and much will be said about Lance’s story and his admittance to using performance enhancing drugs, but I think we should examine what it means for all of us, and what it says about the world we live in.
Early in the interview, Lance reflected on his Tour de France triumphs.
“Looking back, you have this mythic, perfect story,” he said. “But it wasn’t true.”
Citing his perfect marriage, victory over cancer, and seven Tour de France wins, Lance acknowledged just how epic that part of his life was … and although it wasn’t all “true,” as Lance points out, I don’t think the doping takes away that epicness that many who looked up to Lance felt in regards to his story. He was a hero.
The Heroic Myth
We all have heroes in our lives that we look up to. We relish in their stories of courage, bliss and adventure.
This world needs heroes. Without them, there’s no one to look up to, no one to put on a pedestal, no one to make us feel like we are a part of something that is larger than life. That’s what heroes do — they make us feel like anything is possible, like impossible is nothing; they make us want to be better. These are all good things.
But we take things too far. We want to believe our heroes are superhuman, so we place high expectations on them, only to be angered or shocked when they fail to live up to these gold standards. Yet every hero is a human, and no human is perfect.
There is only One who is perfect, and that is our God, who never fails us (Psalm 136).
“We’ve all made mistakes,” Lance said. “I am deeply flawed. We all have our flaws.”
None of us is unblemished. We cannot ask perfection of ourselves and the same goes for our heroes.
The fact that Lance has the courage to confess and admit his flaws of arrogance, deceit and ruthless desire to win at all costs still makes him a hero. Sure, for years he was a coward. But right now he is facing and owning his mistakes, and that is something that takes a lot of nerve and humility: qualities that we often attribute to our heroes.
It’s easy to point fingers, to call names and to mutter words under your breath, but as Oprah said in the interview, “Fame magnifies whoever you are.” Our world magnified Lance, and so his fall from grace seems grander in some way. But we must remember that we have all fallen from grace. We cannot expect perfection from our heroes when we live in an imperfect world.
Note: Next week, “Friday’s Five Things” will return.